Three Jerks Jerky
Co-founders Daniel Fogelson and Jordan Barrocas on their grassroots approach to pushing three bold-flavored beef treats
by Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi
There's jerky, then there's Three Jerks Jerky. Daniel Fogelson and Jordan Barrocas, the duo behind Three Jerks Jerky have concocted the couture of jerky—drawing from the best filet mignon cut to deliver what could very well be the san gréal of beef jerky. The novelty of fashioning jerky from filet mignon is something that has never been attempted on a production end; hence, each gnaw of sinewy jerky resurrects that tender, buttery texture that is revered in filet mignon. At the same time, the mild flavor of this lean steak cut serves as a perfect base for flavors to translate.
Fittingly, Three Jerks currently boasts three flavors—Original, Chipotle Adobo and Memphis BBQ—that are distinct in how each initially titillates and then lingers on the palette. The pick of the three for us was the Chipotle Adobo with the fragrant adobo base of black pepper, garlic, and oregano seamlessly fusing with a piquant hint of vinegar and citrus. There's a Filipino kick to this complex blend of flavors that filters through with every bite.
The groundswell of support Three Jerks Jerky received in their Kickstarter campaign is a testament to the quality of their product. We had a chance to talk shop with the jerks, Fogelson and Barrocas, touching on their humble grassroots beginnings and life since their auspicious Kickstarter campaign.
"We wanted to make the best damn beef jerky the world has ever tasted."
When did that seminal, late night conversation about jerky take place? How do you feel about the company's progression?
Daniel Fogelson: The original jerky conversation took place last August. Long story short, we were discussing our displeasure with available beef jerky when we simultaneously looked up at each other and immediately realized we should make some for ourselves. Naturally, we were not going to make just any beef jerky. We wanted to make the best damn beef jerky the world has ever tasted. The next day we bought meat, ingredients for marinades and a dehydrator. We tested our chops at making jerky, the result was shockingly good, and the rest is history.
Jordan Barrocas: While we still have much work to do and more to accomplish, we’re extremely proud to be where we are. We started Three Jerks Jerky in our home kitchen, experimenting and making jerky every night after our day jobs, trying to make something we liked. Each step we took was natural and truly based on an organic process. The progression from starting at home to launching our website and now seeing Three Jerks Jerky on the shelves at gourmet stores like Eataly, makes us proud. Most importantly though, to be able to continue making a product we love and building a business that we are passionate about is what we are most excited for.
What do you think your Kickstarter backers connected with—especially those who hadn't even tasted your jerky yet?
DF: When we first developed the concept for Three Jerks Jerky we wanted to build a local foundation, so Kickstarter was a natural place for a grassroots introduction. Kickstarter provided the ability to let personality come through more than other mediums used to introduce a business. Therefore, backers were able to connect with us as the founders and with the characteristics of our brand. Three Jerks Jerky: The Original Filet Mignon Beef Jerky, inherently conveys quality, but is also done so through an irreverent and fun voice. Hopefully people connect with our passion and are thus able to share in our love for Three Jerks Jerky.
Daniel, word on the street is that the Memphis flavored jerky is a rub you concocted when you were seven. How did you arrive at the other flavors?
DF: Jordan likes to exaggerate that a bit! I started using the rub on ribs in high school when I fell in love with cooking. When we were developing flavors for Three Jerks Jerky, the rub's depth and layered flavor was a perfect fit for jerky. Jordan created the Original recipe in his kitchen modeling it after a traditional jerky marinade, but made a few tweaks. For Chipotle Adobo, we reached into our vault of personal favorite recipes. It combined a Filipino Adobo Marinade I love and a homemade Chipotle BBQ sauce Jordan had perfected. We literally threw them into a bag together not knowing exactly what we would get. Magic happened that created a truly unique jerky flavor. Not only do three flavors line up nicely with our name, but it allowed us to concentrate and perfect each flavor. We are however always working on new flavor profiles we like for jerky and should have something new to offer soon.
Since the Kickstarter campaign ended what have you jerks been up to?
JB: Our Kickstarter campaign was a great experience and we want to thank all of our backers for their support. They've provided us the opportunity to follow our dreams and we are undoubtedly grateful. Of course our first priority was to fulfill all our orders. We sold over 2,500 bags of jerky which was by far the largest amount of jerky we had to make. Needless to say it took some planning to scale up our supply chain, but we were able finish and ship all orders only six weeks after the campaign closed. Concurrently, we were working on the full commercial launch of Three Jerks Jerky, including our ecommerce website and our brick and mortar retail distribution. Now, the website is live and Three Jerks Jerky is available at Eataly in NYC as well as four other cities: SnapTop Market in Boston, Epicure Gourmet Market in Miami, Calandro's Market in Baton Rouge, and Broome Street General Store and Say Cheese in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles.
So to follow up with production tidbit following the end of Kickstarter, are all Three Jerks Jerky made in-house by the two of you?
DF: We have found and partnered with a jerky production facility that is about 30 miles east of downtown LA, and with them we are able to produce 15,000 bags of jerky a week if needed. We worked carefully with them over the past eight to nine months to make sure they make the jerky to our specs so that the flavors are just right. It is a handcrafted product from start to finish.
I'm intrigued as to how you built up such an ardent following. What was your means of getting the word out about the Three Jerks?
JB: Everything we have done has been grassroots. The same particularly applies to how we have marketed Three Jerks Jerky. We have almost purely relied on social media to interact with customers and promote our product. Aside from the fact that we don’t have the deep pockets required for traditional advertising and PR, we think that being able to directly communicate is more effective. We enjoy developing relationships with all the fellow jerks out there and have even made new friends in the process.
Three Jerks Jerky retails at $15 a pack or $40 for a set of three, and can be purchased directly from their online store.
Lead image courtesy of Hagop Kalaidjian, all others by Samantha Ashley Wilkins